Everywhere you look, from newspapers to social media, the ketogenic diet seems to be the new trend sweeping the US. But for many, there is a serious gap in knowledge about what the diet really is. Despite recent hype, the ketogenic diet is not new. It has been in use for nearly 100 years. It works by replacing the more traditional high carbohydrate diet with a very high fat version that aims to put the body in ketosis – a metabolic state in which the body burns fat instead of glucose for fuel.
Weight loss would seem to be the most likely reason to choose the ketogenic diet. Evidence shows that in comparison to a more traditional low-fat diet, weight loss initially occurs much more rapidly when patients adhere to a ketogenic or very low calorie eating plan. In time though, the difference in weight loss seems to even out. This raises the question of whether or not the ketogenic diet is realistic long term.
There is sound evidence that the ketogenic diet can be used effectively to reduce seizures in children. In some cases, the diet has even been shown to be as effective as medication at combating this brain disorder. It is recognized in this capacity for its neuroprotective effects, but there is currently no human research data to support its use in other brain disorders, for glucose control or for chronic inflammation.
In the long run, the ketogenic diet leaves much to be desired as far as health is concerned. Those eating low carbohydrate diets tend to consume less fruit and fiber and an alarmingly large amount of animal products and saturated fat, leading to poor nutrient intake with an elevated risk for cardiovascular disease.
Before jumping on the next fad diet bandwagon, remember that what’s trending in the food and fitness world is ever-evolving and there isn’t always reliable evidence to support claims. Instead, try to achieve balance in your diet through whole foods. Seek out colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, seeds and olive oil for a bountiful plate and a vibrant, healthy life. Learn more about healthy eating strategies and other programs offered at Wellness Workdays.
Written by: Danielle Laurin, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern.